Back in 2001, when I decided I was going to work for myself, I decided I needed to stock up on supplies.

I drove to the office supply store and started buying things I felt that every office needed; stapler, pencils, tape, pens, packs of paper to print on and pads to write on, and many other things. I also purchased something to put all that stuff in because I knew all of it wasn’t going to fit in my desk drawer.


by Sarah Sphar via Flickr

Yesterday I needed something and went to the drawer where I’d put all that stuff. I looked at the tape and the pencils and the paper clips all much of the other stuff that I’ve never used, still sitting there in packs, some of it, like the pens, useless to me now.

The problem was my perception of business at the time. I based it on what I had as an employee. However, when I thought about it, the only thing I was always replacing was pens, and that was because I kept leaving them all over the place, not because they’d run out. The type of pen I use now is way different than all those Bic pens I bought back in 2001; I didn’t even like those pens back then.

Many of us set ourselves up for what we perceive we need rather than figuring out what we really need. This goes for supplies across the board, and in this instance I’m also thinking about employees in a supply mode. Something that makes a person a great leader is being able to evaluate just what’s needed to get the job done. For instance, I also had a desk calculator back in 2001 that I never used because I always used Excel. That was a waste of money and if I’d paid attention to myself I’d have remembered that I didn’t even use a calculator at my previous job.

The same can be said for employees. In today’s world having someone that can type 50 words a minute is pretty much meaningless, yet it’s still a standard people use in evaluating employees. I haven’t used a typewriter in almost 15 years; what will that tell me? Most people do things on a computer, and I don’t know anyone with “typing” skills that can’t type at least 75 words a minute on a keyboard; I’ve been close to 150 words a minute but my skills seem to be diminishing some; sigh…

The evaluation of talent has to be for the right reasons, just as you need the right supplies for success. We don’t look at a resume, see spelling mistakes, and dismiss that person as not having intelligence. We look at a resume, see spelling mistakes, and realize this isn’t a person who pays attention to detail. Now, if this person is working in a factory spelling might not count; otherwise, it’s a big deal.

Almost every industry has changed in 10 years. This means the people I talk to in many instances see things much different than their counterparts from back in the day. In some areas the processes I use now are the same I’ve always used and those things still work. In other areas I’ve realized that I need to step up to the plate, update my technology and competence, and be prepared to engage someone in a new way. This is why I finally got a smartphone and why I’ve recently added Skype, although I still haven’t used it yet.

Are you making sure you’re using the right “supplies” for what you do, or using them in the right way to progress in your business?

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